Orgeron to finalize deal with Rebels

Updated: December 15, 2004, 7:49 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

JACKSON, Miss. -- Mississippi has hired Southern California assistant Ed Orgeron to coach the Rebels.

Mississippi athletic director Pete Boone and Orgeron, a Louisiana native and top assistant to USC coach Pete Carroll, met in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon to finalize the coach's contract, ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel reports.

Ole Miss scheduled a news conference Thursday to introduce Orgeron, who coaches the Trojans' defensive line.

"It's a done deal," Edward Orgeron Sr., the coach's father, told The Associated Press in a phone interview from his home in Larose, La. The younger Orgeron could not immediately be reached for comment.

Boone met with San Francisco 49ers coach Dennis Erickson on Tuesday, but Erickson withdrew from consideration on Wednesday.

"We spent a lot of time getting information and researching, and a lot of phone calls and talks," Boone said by phone Wednesday. "I'm extremely pleased with the way we went about doing it and the results that we got."

Orgeron has been the defensive line coach with the Trojans since 1998 and is considered a top-notch recruiter, but this will be the first head coaching position. His high profile and his ties to the Deep South made him an appealing candidate for Ole Miss.

He is considered a key recruiter for top-ranked Southern Cal, which plays No. 2 Oklahoma in the FedEx Orange Bowl for the Bowl Championship Series title on Jan. 4. Orgeron is expected to help coach USC in the Orange Bowl. He won three national titles as an assistant -- two at Miami (1989 and 1991) and last year at USC.

Orgeron, 43, was interviewed by Ole Miss shortly after being contacted on Dec. 6. He openly expressed his desire for the job during the past two weeks.

His hiring wraps up the school's 15-day search for David Cutcliffe's replacement. Cutcliffe was fired Dec. 1 after his first losing season in Oxford.

Several big-name coaches let it be known they were not interested in the job -- including Bobby Petrino of Louisville, Tyrone Willingham of Washington and former Florida coach Ron Zook, who took the Illinois job last week.

Cutcliffe, who made a reported $1.2 million per year, was fired after a difficult season in which he struggled to replace Eli Manning and refused to make major staff changes after his 4-7 season.

He was 44-29 in six seasons at Ole Miss, 25-23 in the SEC, and just a season removed from going 10-3 and finishing tied for first in the West with Manning at quarterback.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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